Content strategies reaping benefits for brands, report suggests

By Chris Lee

Content marketing is delivering tangible business results, according to a new study. The vast majority (90 per cent) of 160 organisations running content marketing campaigns interviewed by communications firm Waggener Edstrom record seeing “high return on investment” from their content marketing efforts.

Given this increased emphasis means in-house marketers and integrated communications agencies that support them must be adequately equipped to not only produce and seed content across multiple channels and platforms, but also ensure that budgets and staffing are in place to deliver long-term value and return on investment, the report’s author argues.

How are brands using content marketing?

The study, ‘Content Marketing: Puncturing the Hype and Getting Practical’, found that the majority (85 per cent) of communication professionals currently using a content marketing strategy do so to promote awareness of their brand, closely followed by increasing engagement with customers (79 per cent) and generating sales leads (77 per cent).

More than two thirds (70 per cent) of marketers understand that content marketing helps drive sales leads more effectively, but 18 per cent still have no plans to implement a strategy and over one third (38 percent) still question whether it can deliver measurable return on investment.

A lack of staff resources was identified as the number one challenge in implementing an effective content marketing strategy (63 per cent), closely followed by lack of budget (48 per cent) and lack of content creation expertise (41 per cent).

Almost four in every five marketers (79 per cent) believe that a strong content marketing strategy will help them use social media more effectively, followed by video and animation (70 per cent) and news articles (62 per cent).

When it comes to reporting and measurement, the study also reveals that businesses are setting metrics to track success and prove the value of good content. More than three quarters (83 per cent) measure the effectiveness of content through web traffic, while two thirds (67 per cent) measure through media coverage and just over half (56 per cent) through click analysis.

Addressing the challenges of integrated communications

According to Gareth Davies, UK Head of Studio D at Waggener Edstrom – told NMK that the role of integrated communications professionals with this wealth of branded content is changing fundamentally.

“Previously, integrated agencies have primarily focused on ensuring that there is a consistent story told across multiple platforms and mediums so that they all work in harmony to drive their target audience to undertake a specific action or behaviour – be that to consider the product, click on a lick, visit a site, watch a video,” he said. “With the proliferation of content marketing, integrated agencies still very much play this role, however, they now not only have to ensure a consistent story across multiple platforms, they also have the added complexity of managing multiple content formats across multiple platforms.”

Different channels and platform equals distinct challenges and requires versatility in brand storytelling, Davies added.

“If you think about an average YouTube video of around three minutes long, it is a great format for telling a story but that video wouldn’t work on Twitter where a Vine video is no longer than six seconds or even Facebook where users’ attention spans for content is shorter,” Davies concluded. “However, despite being on different platforms, you would need the content to tell the same story and have the same effect. To this point integrated marketing agencies need to be experts in bending and manipulating stories to fit the content format they are using to carry the message.”

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